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Oncology Nursing Science
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Dona Berry discusses Oncology Nursing Science at ONS Congress 2017. For the ability to view on your mobile phone please visit us at

This transcript is software driven, please understand there may be errors.  Should any inaccuracies or omissions be found, please notify for correction.

Hi. I'm Donna Berry. I'm one of the distinguished Nurse Researchers for the Oncology Nursing Society and I'm going to be talking today about Oncology Nursing Science.

Understanding nursing science, we first have to think about understanding nursing and if we define nursing as the diagnosis and treatment of the human response to health and illness conditions like the American Nurses Association has defined it, then we know that nursing science involves applying a scientific method to improve the diagnosis and treatment of the human response.

So you can see here in my graphic that I have nursing science as a component of nursing overall and there are many other aspects of nursing within the larger globe of nursing administration and practice of course and education, but nursing science is what generates the knowledge base for our practice. We do that with the scientific method. Starts with a problem. I like to say, "What is it in our patients that we want to see better, that we want to see different, what we want to see better outcomes." That's where it all starts.

So we make those observations in our practice. We formulate questions or hypothesis. We design and experiment, or an evaluation. We collect and interpret the data. Then we consult prior knowledge and see how our findings fit in with what's been known before, and we finally reach conclusions about what we're going to do with those findings and what we're going to do next in our research.

Well who does this and where do they do that? Scientists are typically PhD prepared in the general sense of science but in nursing we have PhD prepared nurse scientists. We also have Doctorate of Nursing Science graduates or DNSc graduates and those are considered equivalent to the PhD these days.

Nurse scientists also have RN licensure. At the basic level or even the graduate level they've been educated and have sat for licensure as a registered nurse. Nurse scientists work everywhere. They work in higher education, clinical facilities like myself at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, in industry, in government and policy institutions. There are 25 ONS distinguished researchers that have received career achievement awards for their contribution to Oncology Nursing Science but there are many, many, many others that are conducting Oncology Nursing Science.

What has Oncology Nursing Science contributed? They've identified the value of preparatory patient education. They've identified experiences of transitioning from acute care to survivorship. Nurse scientists have developed ways to measure and alleviate symptom distress with cancer symptoms. Nurse scientists have developed how to measure and alleviate decisional conflict when it comes to deciding about what treatment, what approach, where am I going to go next, if I'm going to have treatment for many, many of our patients. Nursing science has developed prophylactic antiemetic regimens which you'd be shocked, back in the '70s we did not give our antiemetics prophylactically. We waited until people were sick. But nursing science has made a difference. Now we give them prophylactically and prevention.

Nursing science promotes patient and family and provider communication. We've tested this regarding treatment decisions, symptom management, survivorship and palliative care.

Nurse scientists have developed ways to prevent and mitigate cancer-related fatigue, the number-one symptom in patients with cancer. Oncology Nursing Science goes on and on and on and we don't have time to list everything that they've done but trust me, it's a lot.

So some of you who are direct-care nurses and don't have a doctorate degree or are not researchers, what about, you're asking, science related to practice? Very, very important question. So what I've developed is SPAWN, Science and Practice Aligned with the Nursing, and I've defined this as a bidirectional process through which existing evidence is applied to practice but also important research questions are generated for study and outcomes improvement. With this bidirectional practice we are beginning to eliminate what some people call a gap between science and practice. I like to think of it as we're leaving the gap behind and filling in the distance with something like science and practice aligned with the nursing.

So I've given you a very brief introduction to what Oncology Nursing Science is. I hope it's been informative for you, and I look forward to continued interest in what we're doing to improve outcomes in our patients with cancer.

Thank you very much.